Labour must be victorious in Thursday’s crunch by-election in Wakefield to show it is back on the path to power, say Wes Streeting.
The Shadow Health Secretary said the Red Wall battle was a “big test” – and Keir Starmer and his Shadow Cabinet would be blamed if the party flopped.
Voters head to the polls after disgraced Tory Imran Ahmad Khan quit. He was found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.
The West Yorkshire seat had been red since the 1930s but fell to the Tories in 2019 when Boris Johnson seized swathes of Labour ’s former heartlands.
Labour, who have selected Simon Lightwood as their candidate, have thrown everything at winning Wakefield – regarded as a totemic result for both Mr Starmer and the Prime Minister.
Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting in his constituency
Reach Commissioned/Steve Bainbridge)
Mr Streeting said: “We win it – it shows Labour is on the path back to Government. We lose – we will face serious questions.”
He said the contest was a chance for voters to inflict a blow to a PM clinging to power after surviving a
confidence vote by MPs.
The senior frontbencher added: “I genuinely thought Conservative MPs would have the courage to get rid of Boris Johnson after everything he’s done but they didn’t.
"So they’ve left it to the voters to do their job for them.”
And Mr Streeting says Labour is preparing for two terms in Government as the party does not want to be a “flash in the pan” if elected.
Labour’s manifesto would be ambitious but “not promising the moon on a stick”, he said, in a swipe at the party’s 2019 offering.
“Voters want to know you’ve got big ideas to tackle the future – but they also want to know you’re credible," he said.
"We’re thinking more urgently about what the manifesto will look like, what our priorities are, what we can do in the first term of a Labour government vs what we will have to park for the second term of a Labour government.
"That’s the level of ambition we’re thinking of.
"We don’t want to be a flash in the pan for four or five years. We really want to deliver real change in our country."